Tag Archives: Pakistan Supreme Court

Narrator vs Narrative

By: Agha Haider Raza

Journalists across Pakistan have continuously stressed the importance
of protecting the freedom of speech as way of ensuring the media’s
role as one of the country’s most crucial accountability mechanisms.
However as of late the media seems to have overstepped the very
function they speak so highly of.

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Giving Credit Where It’s Due

Published in the Daily Times Giving Credit Where It’s Due (April 26th, 2010) looks to change the prevalent thought process in Pakistan. For far too long we have been pessimistic in regards to the future of our country. We have let too many domestic and foreign hands change the course of our tomorrow. It is time we cease to let negative elements contaminate our society. We log for a brighter future and at the critical point in time we find ourselves, now is the time for action. Now is the time to take control of our lives.

Pakistan recently had two major delegations visiting the US. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi led the first contingent under the auspices of a new ‘Strategic Dialogue’ with the US. In the second trip, Prime Minister Gilani led his team to President Obama’s first Nuclear Summit. Attended by over 47 heads of state, the summit was the largest gathering of world leaders to descend upon the US soil since the 1940s. Recognised as one of the world’s safe-keepers of a nuclear stockpile, Pakistan gained a nod of approval from the world’s seven nuclear bomb carriers.

I am unaware if many journalists or citizens in Pakistan read foreign newspapers, magazines or even blogs, but over the course of the nuclear summit, many international media outlets praised our country. From the words of admiration showered on Pakistan by President Obama for keeping its nuclear arsenal safe, to the positive role played by Prime Minister Gilani, it was our time to be in the limelight. Much attention was directed towards the professionalism of Army Chief General Parvez Kayani while the brilliant display of diplomacy carried out by Ambassador Husain Haqqani did not go unnoticed. Penned as a key ally of the US and taking the war to the very militants who threaten the fabric of our peace and security, Pakistan garnered much respect from the world community.

I believe we are witnessing a new dawn. President Zardari has probably received more hate mail in his current tenure than the dictator Pervez Musharraf did in his nine-year rule. But Zardari did not suspend the constitution; he did not depose the chief justice, nor introduce the Legal Framework Order (LFO); nor did he chalk out the 17th Amendment, which put a black mark on our constitution. Rather, the current president put into place the 18th Amendment, which rectified the above-mentioned wrongs done by a military dictator. Giving credit where it is due, I think we have seen the rise of a new dawn.

Ironically, many journalists and media personalities in Pakistan are still unhappy with the current set-up. Earlier they used to admonish Zardari for not shifting the authority granted to him under the 17th Amendment to the rightful heir, the prime minister. With a streak of vengeance, columnists penned articles day after day, inciting anger and hatred towards Mr Zardari. But, like spoilt children, these journalists have not applauded the transfer of power, and have found nothing but faults in the latest legislation. In my humble opinion, they have continued in the age-old habit of misconstruing facts to suit their own needs.

Constantly speculating on motley issues, from clash between the judiciary and the executive to resignation of Mr Zardari after the abolition of the NRO to demanding expulsion of Ambassador Haqqani within 48 hours (which was sometime in October last year), these reporters have used every ploy to bring down the current government. Mind you, I am not arguing that the Zardari administration does not have its flaws, but surely we can give credit where it is due, especially if it is in the interest of our nation.

One of the reasons many Pakistanis showed dissent towards the US over the past decade was due to President Bush’s blind support of General Musharraf. A bitter relationship between Pakistan and the US stemmed from the love affair of these two polarising figures. Citizens of both countries were wary of the other, while public perception of Pakistan in the US was at an all time low and vice versa. During the Busharraf years we constantly heard the mantra of “do more”, while the Bush administration turned a blind eye towards the undemocratic steps taken by General Musharraf.

President Obama strode into office, articulating a new, stronger and secure relationship with the Muslim world, especially with Pakistan, due to our deep involvement in the war on terror. Placing Ambassador Haqqani at the helm of affairs has led to a much-needed boost in what was a tattered relationship with the US. Much criticism was directed at Mr Haqqani during the Kerry-Lugar saga, but many have failed to acknowledge the depth of the strong bond our ambassador has secured with the US. It was through the efforts of Mr Haqqani that Pakistan was able to procure the long-delayed F-16s and the crucial grant of $ 7.5 billion in non-military aid.

If we, as a nation, constantly harp on the past, we may never be able to see the future. We are not out of the woods yet, but that does not mean we will remain in this perpetual cycle of suicide bombings and low standard of living. Constantly bickering over the role of President Zardari or his appointees will lead us nowhere. The primary reason for fighting for an independent judiciary was to have an accountability mechanism in place. A section of the current ‘independent’ media needs to stop finding fault with every positive initiative the government has undertaken. Giving credit where it is due and holding elected officials accountable for their actions while in public office is the way to go and truly enjoy the fruits of democracy we strive for.

Fighting the wrong threat?

By:  Cyril Almeida

What’s holding up the constitutional amendment package? Raza Rabbani and his elves have been hard at work for months; the politicians swear they want it done sooner rather than later; heck, even the army is in favour of it. Surely, it isn’t that difficult. Continue reading

A judicial agenda for the times

By: Cyril Almeida

QUICK: name the chief justice of India. Can’t? How about Australia then? Brazil maybe? Canada, France or China? Russia, Malaysia or Turkey?

That CJ Iftikhar is a household name isn’t of course his fault. Credit for that goes to Musharraf, who clumsily tried to sack the judge who refused to do his bidding the second time round. However, that CJ Iftikhar and the non-PCO-II judges continue to make almost daily headlines is absolutely their choice. But why? What exactly is the court trying to achieve?

Conventional wisdom has it that you need to look no further than who is getting battered the most — the federal government — and who has the most to lose — Asif Zardari — to figure out the court’s agenda.  That possibility makes the baying-for-blood populists and transformation-seekers very happy and the legal purists concerned about due process, separation of powers, etc very unhappy.  Yet, assume for a minute that CJ Iftikhar’s court has an institutional agenda that goes beyond the fate of Zardari and his cohorts. It really isn’t so far-fetched. Continue reading

Watching Pakistan Teeter

By: Daniel Markey

The Zardari government is hanging by a thread. Daniel Markey on what happens if it falls—and the perils of the U.S. stepping in.

Judging from the breathless reporting out of Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari is only hanging onto power by the skin of his teeth. Zardari and many of his closest allies face serious political troubles because Pakistan’s supreme court recently overturned a Musharraf-era amnesty deal that had allowed him, his then-wife Benazir Bhutto, and a raft of other politicians to brush off unsettled cases of graft and corruption and return to government office.
Whatever the legal merits of Zardari’s case, this judicial action poured lighter fluid onto an anti-Zardari flame that had already been burning for many months. If left untended, this flame could again consume Pakistan in the sort of destabilizing political protests experienced at the end of the Musharraf regime. Continue reading

The Pakistan Government along with her Military and Citizens.

By: Agha Haider Raza

In the December 18th New York Times publication, an article Pakistan Ministers Are Called Before the Courts was written by Jane Perlez and Salman Masood.  Though the article does state the annulment of the National Reconciliation Ordinance and the repercussions of the decision taken by the Pakistan Supreme Court, it has given an image portraying the Pakistan Army as an anti-democratic institution.  Understandably the Pakistan Army is going through a turbulent phase.  The army is currently engaged in a battle against militants who are adamant in bringing down the current democratic set up in Pakistan.  However, one must not forget that many of these militants have grown up in the same neighborhood as the army soldiers, and regardless of allegiance, it is always difficult to take up arms against a childhood acquaintance. Continue reading